If Wishes Were Horses
By Gail Christison
Title: If Wishes Were Horses
Author: Gail Christison
Rating: NC-17 for romantic sexual scenes
Summary: Dawn wants to learn to ride and for Buffy to go with her. Buffy and horses are unmixy things. Giles helps out. Bonding ensues.
Timeline: Post The Gift. Buffy is back. Things are pretty much back to normal in Sunnydale. Giles didn't leave. Very minor possible spoilers regarding where Tara and Willow are living.
Disclaimer: All BTVS characters belong to the Jossman and Co. The plot, the horses and Sarah Callaghan belong to me. :-)
Author's note: This was written for Gileswench's birthday based on her specifications, and the list of things she didn't want to see :-) Basically she wanted Buffy and Giles to stay in canon as closely as possible and to bond over a *normal* activity before major smoochies were to ensue. I've endeavoured to meet all her specifications. This is meant to be a light hearted romance. Angst is minimal.
Note: This has been worked on for some time and finished for a few days but I delayed posting for obvious reasons. Now I'm guessing, and hoping, some people might enjoy the momentary distraction from real life.
Dedication: May your future birthdays be celebrated in peace and happiness, Wench.
"You're not serious?"
"Have you seen these things? They're like, huge
and they smell and…"
"Buffy, you are the Slayer. They aren't even
aggressive. You're talking about a creature which has been at the right hand of
man for thousands of years…"
Buffy wrinkled her nose and got up to punch the bag
some more. "I don't care. They're big and they…they…don't stand still
and they don't like me."
"And upon what do we base this analysis?"
She shrugged. "I wanted one…when I was seven. I
begged and begged until mom took me to a place where I could have an actual
lesson. The thing was demonic. It tried to bite me when I petted its nose, trod
on my foot on purpose when I was supposed to climb on…"
"Mount," Giles corrected patiently.
"But surely you enjoyed the lesson?"
"My foot hurt. I was mad at it."
Giles rolled his eyes. "What did you do?"
"Well, the instructor said squeeze, and that
didn't work so…I um…well…cowboys do it."
He sighed. "You kicked it?"
"I did not! A-at least not the way you make it
sound. I just sort of…"
"Banged your boot heels into the poor creature's
sides and startled it half to death?"
"It ran. I fell off. End of story," she
growled and strode off.
Giles suppressed the urge to laugh heartily and
"All your own fault," he said when he caught
up with her. "If you truly want to do this for Dawn, you need to realize
that a horse is a simple creature with simple needs, the first of which is
respect, like most other living things in this world."
"So you want me to humiliate myself? You know
she's read about everything there is to know about horses, riding and the whole
thing. She'll be sitting there doing it all right and laughing her butt off at
"I have confidence in you, Buffy. A little
research, a few lessons of your own before you go with Dawn and I'm sure you
will more than hold your own."
Buffy moved over on their 'discussion' couch, as she
sometimes thought of it and Giles automatically sat down next to her.
"I don't think you're getting the big picture here,"
she said more quietly. "They scare me, Giles."
His eyes widened for a moment, then his mouth clamped
into a straight line to stop from smiling. When he could trust himself to keep a
straight face, he cleared his throat.
"We all have irrational fears, Buffy. They can be
overcome. The question is do you want to overcome this one, for Dawn's sake, or
are you simply angling for me to talk to Dawn for you? It isn't my job to play
the 'bad person' for you when you don't want to deal with…"
"It's good guy/bad guy," Buffy corrected,
"not 'bad person,' and that occurred to me for about five minutes…blissful
minutes," she added honestly and smiled back when he did finally grin at
her, "but Dawn's been through a lot and I want to do this for her. It's the
first normal, teenage, human thing she's shown an interest in since mom died."
Giles sighed. "Then we have to find a way to break
through this fear of yours," he said.
"Great. You keep stating the obvious, and I'll go
work it out by myself," she told him snappily, mildly irritated by his lack
of tangible support, and not sure why.
He snorted. "Go and do thirty minutes of aerobics
to warm down and clear that hostility from your enraged breast and then meet me
tomorrow morning, early, at the flat. If you don't have riding clothes, wear
jeans, find some riding boots or at the very least elastic sided boots with
square heels, *not* spikes."
Buffy pouted. "It's Saturday. I've patrolled late
all week and had to get up way early to take Dawn to school and study to catch
up all my classes and…."
Giles turned and rolled his eyes toward her so that he
was regarding her with a half-glaring, half mock-suffering look.
She took one look, poked out her tongue and got up to
go and turn on the music. "I hope your brain starts dribbling out your ears!"
she yelled and turned it up to three times the normal volume she worked out at.
Giles rose and crossed the room without a word, took
his jacket off the hook he'd left it on while Buffy stepped and made a smug face
behind his back, reached the doorway and lazily put out a hand to flick the
light switch off before closing it behind him.
"HEY!!!" a voice yelped over the din.
Standing for a moment on the other side of the door, he
smirked to himself then headed for home, leaving Buffy to lock up, as he often
did, before heading out into the darkness.
"I think I've changed my mind," Buffy said
for the fourth time as the car wound its way up into the foothills outside of
Sunnydale. A few more miles and they'd just about be at Breaker's Woods.
"Do stop dithering," Giles muttered,
overtaking another eighteen-wheeler. "You'll have plenty of time to decide
after you actually see one again. When was the last time you actually came
within close range of a live equine, other than our road joust with the Knights
"Huh?" she teased.
"All right. Um…okay. I can do this. Do Zebras
count…? Cause there was that zoo trip…you know with Xander and the Hyena
people and like that…"
Giles ignored her.
"Okay, so I've made it a life mission to avoid
horsiness. Sue me."
"Fine. At least
you're being honest now. Today you find out just exactly how frightened you are
or are not of the real thing, not just some phantom from your childhood. Ah,
Buffy swallowed as Giles turned into a long driveway between two large fields. A long, low, elegant ranch house was nestled on the side of a hill above a number of fields and pastures, each of which contained contented, lazily grazing beasts of various shades and dimensions.
She frowned. "What kind of horses are they?"
Giles looked down at her for a moment, surprised.
"Why do you ask?"
"I dunno. I've seen horses like this somewhere.
They're not, you know, regular horses…not like…well, John Wayne never rode
one of these…"
He guffawed. "You've actually watched a
"Lots," she shot back. "Mom was big with
the retro-movies. We used to watch a lot of late night TV, even more after she
found out about the slayage and waited up...a lot. Sort of parental-offspring
bonding in with a Thelma and Louise motif," she said fondly. "I know
way too much about old movies and how weird they can get…even John Wayne. If I
was Ben Johnson I'd have wanted a lot more money to stand on those horses and
gallop them around like that…and jump over those jumps as well, no matter who
ordered me to."
"Buffy, I have no idea what your talking
about," Giles pointed out as he parked the car.
"John Wayne…old cavalry movie. One of the
troopers stands one foot on each of the bare backs of two horses and gallops
them around like an idiot and then actually jumps them over some jumps…still
standing up. Nuts," she summarized.
"Indeed," he agreed, dazed, and still
incredulous that she could retain such useless information and not remember a
damned thing about the last demon they'd researched, not five minutes after she
had despatched it. "And for your information these horses are all
Andalusian stock. This is not a riding school. It is the home of a friend of
"Friend? You didn't tell me you had
"And do you want to know when I go to the
bathroom, and clip my toenails too?" he growled as they got out of the
vehicle in the bright, early morning sunshine.
"Eieww. Don't be gross. I didn't mean to
sound…bossy." She flashed him a grin. "How do you know I'm not just
He gave her his patented 'do you really want me to
answer that, or just ignore you?' look.
Buffy sobered a little. "Sorry," she said
softly. "You never talk about yourself. Except… except for fighter pilots
and Eyghon, and some delirious raving about Watcher's retreats, you never talk
about yourself, your past, England. I've seen you…brilliantly, I gotta say,
work Xander from a question about you going to school as a kid, into a
conversation about him playing pranks on Willow in kindergarten without him even
realising you changed the subject. I heard Willow trying to wheedle your
birthday out of you once and you ended up getting her to do like, forty-five
minutes on Christmas and Hanukah in the Rosenberg and Harris households. She
never did get your birthday, did she?"
His expression softened. "No."
He sighed heavily. "I think you're old enough to
understand now that sometimes people want to keep their past in the past,"
he said softly.
Buffy frowned for a moment. "Oh," she said
finally and looked up at him, her blue-grey eyes serious for once. "Please
tell me your kid-years weren't all badness. There has to have been some goodness
in your life before the Council screwed it up…?"
For a long moment he didn't speak. "There were
some very happy moments," he finally told her, "when I was small and
thought my world would never change."
His voice was so wistful Buffy longed to know what his
distant green eyes were remembering so fondly.
"Did you have a pony?" she tried to guess.
He laughed. "As a matter of fact, yes. But not the
kind you're imagining. Other children rambled the lanes on ponies and made their
own fun at pony clubs. I, on the other hand, was presented with a show-jumper at
the age of six, learned to ride under an instructor until I was twelve, and sent
to b…went away," he finished evasively. "It was less childhood fun
and more about self-discipline and striving for excellence."
"Sounds about as stuffy as tw…stuffy,"
Buffy finished feebly, suddenly realising just how long it had been since she'd
seen a scrap of tweed on him.
They reached the big outbuilding Giles had been heading
towards and stopped as someone emerged from it.
"Sarah!" he said with visible pleasure.
"Rupert!" the other woman grinned. She was
tall and willowy, with hair the colour of burnished copper, pulled back into a
perfect chignon, periwinkle blue eyes that crinkled at the corners and the kind
of clothes that spoke of money in the most understated, casual way. "It's
been too long."
"Sarah Callaghan, meet Buffy."
"So this is the infamous Buffy." Her voice
was musical and elegant like the rest of her but her smile was gamin and
Buffy decided she was at least fifty-five, and that she liked the faint Irish lilt.
"Have you guys known each other a long time?"
Sarah raised an eyebrow at the Watcher. "About two
"Near enough," Giles agreed, amused. "I
still think you should have let me have that book. I found it first."
Sarah shook her head. "And you put it down when
you saw the volume about the Olmec."
Buffy watched them both. They were so relaxed and easy
with each other. It was obvious they liked each other a lot, but without any
real sparkage. She suddenly realised what it was. They were like siblings. Sarah
was treating Giles like a kid brother.
"Yes well, the Olmec cost me a fine volume on
Pre-Columbian art and the Moche in particular."
Sarah laughed. "You know you can borrow it anytime
you want. I'll leave you to your project. Come up to the house afterward and
we'll have tea."
"We're doing a project, now?" Buffy asked as
she followed Giles into the big building.
"Yes we are."
"And I thought you were just going to make me ride
"And there's the horse," she deadpanned,
stopping, as he reached the single, saddled horse, a vividly red-gold chestnut
mare, tethered at the side of the rectangular ring.
"Really?" he drawled, and ran a gentle hand
down its shoulder.
A moment later she watched him step into the stirrup
and swing fluidly up into the obviously very expensive European saddle.
He was wearing riding pants and a khaki ribbed sweater,
and had high black riding boots on, but neither were anything special, in fact
they were all even kind of worn, and he looked as though he'd been riding
forever as he turned the animal and started it in a kind of slow, stiff march
around the ring.
"What are you doing?" she called.
"It's called a collected walk," he said as
they approached Buffy again. "All you have to do is watch at this point.
Siobhan and I will get re-acquainted for a short time and we'll proceed from
Siobhan snorted at the right time and flicked her fiery
red tail as they passed. They headed down to the other end of the sandy ring and
Giles suggested she move into an equally collected trot without Buffy actually
being able to see how he did it.
She liked the way the mare moved, the way the animal
held its tail like a banner and arched its head as though it knew it was
something special. More than that she liked the way Giles rode, as though he'd
been doing it all his life, as though he had merged with the creature and had
become an extension of it.
It made her wonder what the hell had happened to create
'tweedy' Giles. This Giles, the one she'd seen intimidating Ethan and the one
who'd stood up to the council and later Wesley, so long ago, was not the same
man who blushed and stammered and stuttered his way into her life, a
relationship with Jenny Calendar and a short career as a school librarian. Nor
was he the man who had drifted out of her life for a time not too long ago,
directionless, unhappy and telling no one exactly why…
Giles reached a corner and turned the animal to cross
the room diagonally, Buffy trying to work out the bit of business he did as he
passed by. Moments later he turned on the other diagonal and came back, Buffy
watching his hands and legs again as they passed, her proximity to the animal
After another circumnavigation of the room he turned in
and came to a halt only feet from her, and dismounted with the same elegance as
"What was that called?"
"Riding," Giles said dryly.
"That thing you did just then," she added,
"Changing legs. An exercise in asking the horse to
change the leg with which it leads."
"Is that what I'm supposed to be able to do?"
Giles didn't quite stop the chuckle. "Not really.
Eventually, perhaps, if you and Dawn enjoy the exercise long enough to move past
the basics. For the time being all you have to worry about is whether or not you
are willing to face your aversion to these creatures for your sister's sake, and
perhaps your own."
Buffy eyed the mildly blowing horse as though it was
the most evil of demons.
"It doesn't smell as bad as I remember," she
Giles smiled. "You'll find most things are not as
bad as a seven year old's memories."
She took a tentative step towards the creature, and
then another. "Okay, so no claws, no fire, no demon drool."
The mare lifted its head when she moved again. "On
the other hand," she said, stopping again.
Giles watched, amused, but didn't help.
"Aren't you going to tell me it won't bite?"
His smiled widened. "That would be a fib," he
observed. "Although I can tell you Siobhan is a lady and has never once
attempted to bite me."
"A lady huh? What kind of saddle is that?"
"It's a German dressage saddle. It's not
important. At this point you don't need roping horns, branding irons or silver
spurs to introduce yourself."
She shrugged. "John Wayne or Princess Anne, I
don't care. I just want Dawn to be happy."
Giles finally relented. "Do you want me to
She looked at him for a long moment and then smiled.
"Nah," she said finally. "I've been close enough to a Hellhound
to get drooled on. I can do this."
He nodded and watched.
"Nice horsy," Buffy said softly, inching ever
closer, until she was perhaps three feet from the animal's flank. She stopped
and looked back at Giles. "Okay. I'm good with this."
"Remember, Buffy, respect. You're not seven any
more and this is not a sentient creature. It's an animal and it trusts
"It does?" she squeaked, then cleared her
throat and looked it in the eye. "I mean, okay. Respect. Female solidarity,
Siobhan turned her beautiful dish-shaped nose at the
emphasized mention of her name and snorted dust from her nostrils.
"Yeah, right," Buffy agreed, and carefully
extended her fingers until the velvety muzzle could touch them.
There was a long, silent moment as contact was made and
Buffy's face screwed up as the large nostrils sniffed and blew on her fingers
and palm several times, before she finally realised it was neither going to hurt
nor be gross.
Giles watched with satisfaction as she straightened,
half smiled, and stroked a golden cheek, meeting Siobhan's reproachful gaze.
"Why is she looking at me like that?"
"Empty hand," Giles said softly. "She's
a little spoiled, like most of Sarah's animals. If you offer a hand she expects
Buffy looked back at the creature. "Sorry about
that. It's his fault. He knew, and he didn't tell me. She moved a little as she
was speaking and slowly stroked the glossy neck. "You're a whole lot nicer
than a hellhound, you know that? You smell better, your manners are way better
and you don't drool…" She paused to look at the corners of the animal's
mouth where it was chewing on the bit. "Well, not much anyway."
Giles moved to stand next to her.
"Comfortable?" he asked.
Buffy looked up at him, resting her hand on the horse's
mane. "Not wigging, if that's what you mean."
"Good," he said gently and pointed to the
saddle. "Pommel, cantle, stirrup leather, stirrup iron, girth." He
lifted the flap. "Adjust here for length. Run the irons up before
unsaddling so you don't startle the animal." He waited.
"Got it," she confirmed, and repeated it back
He continued, pointing out parts of the horse and
naming them, answering tolerantly when Buffy questioned him like a five year old
about names like 'poll' and 'withers' and 'hocks'.
"So are we ready?" she finally asked.
"Perhaps," Giles said cryptically.
"Stand here," he pointed to a spot in front of Siobhan's left
shoulder, "and face her. Now run your hand down her leg like this and
Buffy looked at him a little wildly. "I thought I
was going to …you know…ride?"
"Not today…great. I actually think I might be
able to and he says no." She continued to mutter and complain, not fully
aware that she had done as he asked and lifted the leg until he spoke again.
"Now rest the knee on your leg and slide your
hands down to hold the hoof for a moment."
Buffy focused and realised what she was doing, looked
at the powerful foot and remembered how bruised her own foot had been after the
pony had stomped on it all those years ago. She swallowed. "Okay," she
said nervously, but held it while Giles pointed out each part and named it and
explained the type of horseshoe and why they were used.
"Now you can put it down carefully. "Don't
let her do it. Maintain control. Hold it and put it down slowly…well
"There is something seriously not right about a
horse having a frog in its foot," Buffy observed as she straightened.
"You know I'm right. You're seriously not going to let me ride today are
Giles shook his head. "Today was to find out if it
was fear or phobia, and how much work we are going to have to do to overcome
"And next time we will begin lessons. How do you
"My insides are shaking. I'd rather be staking
vamps, but otherwise, really great," she told him dryly.
"To be expected," he said reassuringly,
"and exactly why there will be no riding today. When you've had time to
digest what you've accomplished already and to appreciate the fact that you're
still standing within three feet of something you were terrified of yesterday,
the next step will seem far less daunting."
Buffy looked from Giles to the horse and back to Giles.
"Maybe that has more to do with who I'm with than how smart I am." She
made herself rub the white streak between the mare's eyes and play with the long
"How did you know I didn't have a phobia?"
"I didn't," he said quietly. "But I
remember being five and almost being killed by a bull. I was afraid of anything
bovine for years, until someone taught me to milk a cow and I realised I was
afraid of the memories, not the beasts themselves."
"You were almost killed by a bull?"
He closed his eyes briefly, smiling in spite of
himself. "Yes, a prank by some schoolmates, who sent me into a field to
retrieve my schoolbag. They didn't know that the bull was imported
"A half-wild Cammargue bull. Black as coal and as
mad as hell."
"Did it hurt you?"
"Not physically. I made it to the gate in time for
the farmer, who'd come to see what all the carry on by my mates was about, to
drag me over it before I was gored and belt the daylights out of me for
tormenting his bull. Needless to say my mates were gone before he was done, so
there was no one to corroborate my story and by the time I got home I was too
frightened to tell anyone, since the farmer had taken the bull's side. At that
age you expect all adults to take the same view of things disciplinary."
Buffy pulled a sympathetic gaze away to look at
Siobhan's placid face again. "I think I'm liking horses and horsy people
better all the time. At least the instructor didn't yell at me for kicking the
"The bloody pony was probably well known for
biting and stomping. Hack riding school mounts develop bad habits if they're not
checked. If they knew you were hurt they wouldn't dare, lest your mother sue
them for damages."
Buffy frowned again. "I guess she didn't know she
could. She was pretty angry after I fell off. There was a lot of shouting and we
left pretty fast. I don't think she paid. Not much except my foot was hurt. It
was black and blue for a week."
"Not an experience that would make a small child
want to rush back to horse riding as a pastime again."
"Until now," Buffy said softly, trying to
picture Giles as a five-year old boy. "Were you small for your age?"
"When you were five. What did you look like?"
He chuckled and thought for a moment. "Small.
Knobbly knees. Thin. Fair hair—the kind that turns brown," he revealed.
"Thanks," she said softly and looked up at
him, staring into the green eyes.
They searched hers before he smiled back. "I
daresay you were as attractive as a small girl as you are now," he teased.
"Me?" she half laughed. "Nah. Would have
been nice, but I was little, with the puppy fat and kinda mousy."
"Buffy, you were never fat. Too bloody thin most
of the time. All of you young women are these days."
"Hey, I never said I was fat," she retorted
smartly. "I just wasn't ever going to be the ballerina type. You saw me
when I came to Sunnydale: not exactly Swan Lake."
"I saw you," he said quietly. "And you
were as perfect as you are now."
She flicked a surprised look back up at those eyes.
They were smiling at her again, tenderness, warmth, affection in them, their
corners crinkled and his mouthed curved up in an amused grin.
"Flattery will get you everywhere," she
replied, aware she was flirting, but not sure why.
His grin flickered, and something changed between them,
but he laughed. "It never has before," he retorted. "Come on,
Sarah has afternoon tea waiting for us." He untied Siobhan and led her out.
"The horse is coming to dinner?"
Giles ignored her as he changed the bridle for a
halter, tied her to a rail outside and ran the stirrup irons up before
unbuckling the girth and removing the saddle.
Buffy watched him work until he'd rubbed her down and
checked all of her feet again.
"You're good with them," she observed.
"They're easy to be with," he replied as he
turned. "No complications, no lies. Just trust and loyalty."
It was Buffy's turn to subside a little.
They walked up to the homestead in pensive silence.
Afternoon tea turned into a noisy affair. Sarah was as
good at teasing Giles as Buffy herself was, and infectious. By the end of the
cakes, biscuits, tea and espresso coffee made especially for Buffy, they both
had Giles red to the ear tips and stuttering behind his tea cup with their
"You're as bad as each other," Giles muttered
as he started the car. "And I was not the one who short-circuited the
school's electrical system, if you remember correctly. You are the one who
boiled my kettle with no water in it and destroyed the element."
"Details," Buffy dismissed airily. "When
are you going to tell her about…things?" she asked suddenly.
"I'm not," he said swiftly. "She doesn't
need to know, and I don't need that part of my life to intrude h—" He
stopped suddenly, swallowed and looked away.
"Too late," Buffy said hoarsely. "Sorry.
I seem to ruin everything for you, don't I? It's okay. I can do the rest now.
And I promise I won't tell her anything."
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I didn't mean…" He
stopped and made himself turn back to her. "I'm glad you came up here with
me. I have enjoyed today immensely. It's…it's just that this place…it's
"It's not for Slaying and Watchers and vampires
and demons," Buffy finished. "It's for a little piece of normal. I
envy you," she sighed.
"It can be that for you too, if you'd like,"
he said quietly, almost shyly.
She looked at him again. "But I'm the other stuff.
You bring me here, you can't get away from it," she said wistfully, looking
around the property. "I can't do that to you, much as I already love this
"I rather thought we were both away from it for a
"Well, yeah," she agreed, not sure where the
conversation was going. "I guess we were. I never thought of it that way.
It was kinda nice actually spending time where we weren't training or
researching or debriefing or fighting something. Why didn't we ever do that
Giles dropped his eyes and didn't answer.
After a beat Buffy realised why. "Oh," she
said quietly, then realised that there wasn't anything more to be said. In all
their time together she'd never once contemplated spending time with him 'just
because'. There was always some reason why she had to go see him. The nearest
she'd ever come was wanting her mother to invite him for Christmas one year, and
that birthday, when she would have taken any offer to go with someone to the
stupid Ice Show rather than let her father ruin everything again...
"Why wouldn't you take me?" she asked
"To the Ice Show."
He looked up at her then, surprised. "You still
think about that?"
"I couldn't be who you wanted me to be then."
"Because of the stupid test?"
He shook his head. "Because Travers had no idea
what he was talking about."
Buffy's eyes narrowed, her spirits taking a startling
nose-dive, despite not being entirely sure what he meant by that. "That's
why you didn't answer him…why you just stood there? That's why you
"Changed?" he asked, surprised again.
"Olivia, Halloween, coming to the Bronze, Olivia
again, singing at the 'Pump, lost weekending with Ethan Rayne," she listed,
"Yes, all right, I get the picture," he said
irritably. "And no…I mean…I didn't change. Things were
simply…difficult…during that period."
"I think I'd like to just leave it at that,"
he replied, put the vehicle in gear and headed down the driveway.
"You can't," Buffy said eventually,
struggling, needing to understand, as they turned out of the gate. "You
can't just leave it at that. I know we both changed last year, but I
Giles flicked a glance at her. "You grew up. You
found your own way. It was inevitable. I should have realised then."
Her eyes widened. "Did I miss something?" she
"That things change," he said simply.
"But we don't," Buffy insisted, a
little frightened now.
He looked at her again for a moment then turned his
gaze back to the road.
She sighed. "Okay. All right, I changed in
college. I let everything get to me after Angel left. So did you, somehow, right
from that summer when Olivia came. But us…who we are together…I thought…it
was like, for always?"
There was a note of vulnerability, rare in Buffy's
voice, in the last few words.
Giles smiled a little to himself, surprised and
touched. Explaining, however, was harder than he thought. "It is true that
I will always be there for you, Buffy. But I…I…"
She exhaled as though relieved, but didn't look at him
again when he didn't finish, instead remaining as silent and brooding as he, for
the rest of the journey.
When Buffy knocked on Giles' door the next morning, she
was still trying to figure things out.
A voice rumbled: "Come," from somewhere
She frowned and pushed the door open. "When are
you going to start locking this door?" she demanded as he emerged from the
bathroom pulling a knitted shirt over his head.
Buffy blinked at the naked chest disappearing under the
black fabric, then zoned back into the room, not willing to be distracted, but
mentally filing the unexpected vision for later.
"When I remember," he muttered.
"Giles, I'm serious. What's your deal with not
locking doors? It scares me how much you don't seem to care about your own
Giles turned for the kitchen without answering.
"Do you want coffee before we go?"
She sighed and followed him. "Answer me, Giles.
You've been avoiding this question for years. Why?"
"I prefer not to."
"So you still think I'm a kid."
He spun then and looked her square in the eye. "On
the contrary," he said in a strange tone. "It's simply not
"It is to me," she said vehemently.
"Giles, I don't want to lose you…ever."
"Then I will buy a deadlock for the door," he
He banged down the kettle he'd just filled and turned
back to her again. "I don't lock the bloody door because I need to know
that if you need me you can get in…at any time of the day or night. Happy
She blinked. Of all the possibilities, that was one she
hadn't considered, and yet the one most like him.
"No," she said softly. "And I'm not
putting you in danger any more. Either you give me a key or I'll break the door
down in an emergency, but you will lock it from now on."
"Oh, I will, will I?" he drawled.
"Please?" she whispered.
He relented then, and walked to the breakfast counter,
picked up his keys and removed one before turning and putting it in her hand.
"No smashing the door. The tradesmen are starting
Their eyes met and they both grinned before chuckling
softly. "No smashing the door," she agreed. "Thanks," she
He nodded. "The way we're going we'll want lunch
before we leave," he muttered and turned back to the kettle, turned it on.
Buffy smiled fondly at his broad back and giggled
softly to herself.
Giles waited patiently as Buffy reintroduced herself to
Siobhan and gradually relaxed enough to stroke the mare's neck quietly.
When she was ready he moved closer and took her through
the basics of mounting before she moved into position to try it herself. With
her fitness, suppleness and slayer strength she swung up smoothly and cleanly
into the saddle, unlike most beginners.
Giles smiled. She was going to be fine, even if she did
look like she'd just mounted a hell-beast and wasn't sure what was coming next.
"Okay," she smiled tentatively. "What
Giles' large hands adjusted the length of the reins and
showed her how to hold them, moving her fingers and adjusting her grip until it
Buffy held her breath. The reaction to his touch was
unexpected, but they had touched each other so little in the time they'd known
each other, there really wasn't any way to know her body would react like this.
She took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on what he was saying about her
legs as he adjusted the stirrup irons for length, taking her left foot and
letting it rest next to the leather.
When he took hold of it after adjusting the leather and
gently slipped her toe back into the stirrup iron, she felt it again. Then he
was going around and doing the other one.
"How does that feel?" he asked when he was
done, oblivious to the chaos of her thoughts.
Buffy frowned. "Weird. Like one is higher than the
He checked. "They're fine. It's normal for it to
feel like that at first. You'll get used to it."
"This saddle is different."
"Yes," he said, amused. "This is a
general purpose saddle. You're not quite up to dressage yet."
"I'm not sure I'm quite up to walking yet,"
she said doubtfully.
He laughed. "You're doing wonderfully,
Buffy." He spoke quietly for the next few minutes, making the basics as
clear to her as any training session in the library in the old days, or their
He stepped away when she nodded in response to his
query as to whether she'd understood everything, and watched as she moved her
weight appropriately and the pair started down the left side of the ring. Buffy
was sitting a little too stiffly, probably from sheer fear, but her back was
straight and her seat was correct.
Siobhan behaved perfectly, taking Buffy around the ring
before the latter made her first executive decision in the same corner from
which Giles had started his diagonal the day before, and turned the mare inward
to where he was now standing and watching.
When they halted in the middle of the ring, Giles
nodded. "How are you feeling?"
"Everest-y," she said whimsically. "All
I did was walk in a circle…square …rectangle …whatever…but I feel like I
climbed the mountain."
"Conquering fear, whether at sea-level or
twenty-five thousand feet, is always satisfying," he told her placidly.
For a time their gazes held and it was as though he was
talking about something else entirely. Then Siobhan moved a little and the
moment was lost. Buffy spent another twenty minutes practising walking, holding
her seat and getting used to where her hands should stay, feeling the horse's
mouth, the bit, and understanding the consequences of heavy-handedness or
roughness insofar as the reins were concerned.
"You know carousel horses are a lot less
complicated," Buffy announced when Giles had told her for the fourth time
to keep her hands down.
He smiled. It was almost impossible to imagine Buffy on
a carousel horse. She was so full of energy, movement, life, that imagining her
sitting on an inert hunk of fibreglass or wood while it moved in endless,
mechanical, circles was somehow…wrong.
After an hour of repeating the basics, and talking
Giles into one attempt to try something other than endless walking which
resulted in a very bumpy lesson in not rushing, Buffy called a halt.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she huffed when
Siobhan came to a relieved halt and she slithered down next to him.
"A lesson in patience. Trotting is an awkward gait
and you should have realised that, as with a great deal of our own training, I
will move you on to the next level when and if I think you are ready, and not
She made a face at him and rubbed her rump. "Yeah,
well, for someone trying to help a person get over their fear of things horsy
you lost the tender touch pretty darn quick."
He raised an eyebrow. "The tender touch?"
She dropped her hands and faced him. "Yeah. It's
kinda special, you know, the way you made me forget I was terrified of horses
Again their eyes met and held, and again they seemed to
be searching for answers just beyond the reach of either of them.
"Now," Giles said unexpectedly.
"Now," he confirmed. "Now we'll take you
through the basics of trotting. When you can do two circuits of the arena
lifting smoothly we'll call it a day."
Buffy sighed. "Lead on, MacDuff," she
Giles mounted the rested horse and explained the basics
before demonstrating. Buffy watched him moving in perfect rhythm with the
floating movement of the mare, a little disappointed when he finally turned back
into the centre of the ring and brought Siobhan to a halt.
Buffy's first two or three attempts to move in rhythm
with the abrupt change of gait resulted in bobbing and bumping and muttered
epithets from the Slayer, while Giles strove valiantly to keep a straight face.
He encouraged her to keep trying to find the rhythm and
eventually she did. Once she knew how it should feel she made no further
mistakes, lifting with more and more confidence until she was as fluid as Giles
in her unity with the beast beneath her. After three laps Giles raised a hand.
"Excellent," he said, smiling. "But if
you don't rest all those new muscles you've just discovered, you'll feel it
"I will?" she asked, dismounting neatly.
Giles waited a moment for her to find her legs on the
"Oh," she said suddenly and flexed.
"This isn't good. I feel like Pecos Pete. Are my legs all bowed?"
He laughed aloud. "No, your legs are as perfect as
always, but I have no doubt they're going to be sore before the day is
Buffy wrinkled her nose. "They're already
weird." She stepped forward. "Ow. Sore is already an issue. Slayer
healing better kick but fast. I didn't know feeling like a pretzel was
part of the deal when I decided to do this."
Giles laughed again. "Sorry," he said when
she scowled at him. "It's just that I've seen you withstand the most brutal
wounds from battle without a complaint and here you are with a sore ar—bottom
and you're carrying on like a cut chook."
Buffy started giggling. "Are you speaking English,
or code of some kind?"
Giles began to chuckle with her. "You know what I
mean. It will pass. The more you use those muscles, the less they'll complain
about it. Look, how about I take you to lunch? Sarah isn't here today. She's
gone to Wyoming to look at some new stock."
"Depends whether we're talking burger and fries
lunch or 'lunch' lunch," she said playfully.
Giles eyed her speculatively. "As long as you
don't fuss about your clothes I have a place in mind where they don't serve
anything that doesn't require cutlery."
Buffy was nonplussed for a moment, then grinned.
"Restaurant?" she asked, pleased.
"I thought perhaps Spanish," he suggested.
"Mexican would be perfect," she agreed,
wondering why it suddenly meant so much, why she felt like something major,
something special, was happening.
"Spanish," Giles corrected patiently.
"No fajitas?" she asked.
He looked at her, straight down his commanding nose.
"Knives and forks," she conceded then gave
him a gamin grin. "Paella is good, though."
He smiled slowly at the realisation that she'd been
playing with him. "Yes it is," he agreed dryly and followed Buffy and
the mare out into the yard.
It took them an hour to rub down and pasture Siobhan
again before locking up and heading back to town.
Giles put away the tack and they had both walked her
down to her pasture, Buffy collapsing into gales of laughter when Siobhan
inadvertently took a highly 'aromatic' dump on Giles' shoes as he held the gate
open for them.
"You can laugh," he'd muttered. "You
realize we have to go back to the flat now. I can't wear these boots into a
place that serves food."
Buffy had snorted trying to stop giggling. She'd
unclipped the shank from the halter and patted the mare on the rump while Giles
had tried to kick the steaming mess off his boots.
"You can stop giggling now," he told her
grumpily after closing the gate. "It's not that funny."
Buffy, uncharacteristically relaxed and happy, patted
his shoulder. "Sure it is," she said and leaned unselfconsciously
against his arm as they walked. "Would you have preferred cow…or
bull…poop? I mean…I think I'd rather those green tennis balls to
pour-your-own frisbies any time…"
Barely recovered from the surprise of her ease with
him, and the warm arm against his, Giles guffawed in spite of himself.
"You're quite mad," he told her, and spontaneously moved his arm
around her shoulders as they headed for the car.
It was Buffy's turn to be surprised and delighted. It
felt wonderful, more wonderful than anything had in a very long time.
Neither of them spoke on the drive back, both deep in
thought, yet more relaxed and contented than either could remember in a very
Giles removed his boots outside his door and went into
the flat in his socks, Buffy following.
"I'm going to change," she announced as he
headed straight up stairs to find some shoes.
"What on earth for?"
"I smell like a horse," she yelled back.
"And I just remembered I've got a post-Slayage stash around here,
"Blue sport bag, hall closet," he called
A few seconds later she called out again: "Where's
my shirt? You got something you want to tell me, Giles?"
"Very funny!" he yelled back. "You
changed into it the last time we patrolled together because your patrol clothes
got covered in A'mkori Demon bile, if you care to remember. And then you
promptly spilled chocolate ice cream…which you pinched out of my freezer,
mind…all over it. I washed it and it's hanging in the tallboy."
Buffy arrived on the landing after taking a shower, in
her old shirt, her red leather pants, and clean shoes from the bag, and stopped
Giles had changed into another shirt after all, his
favourite black one, which was buttoned but not tucked in yet. He'd also put his
glasses away again and his hair was still mussed from driving. He looked about
She cleared her throat, crossed to the cupboard and
rifled through looking for her shirt, which was tucked between another one of
his black shirts and a tweed jacket she hadn't seen him in for over two years.
She touched it and sighed.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"No, nothing," she said quickly, but he saw
the fingers on the tweed sleeve before she dropped them swiftly.
He smiled self-consciously. "We can't go
back," he said softly. "Much as we'd all like to sometimes."
"I don't want to go back," Buffy said
unexpectedly. "I just miss him sometimes."
For a moment Giles stared at her profile. He understood
what she was saying but not why she was saying it.
"I haven't gone anywhere," he said very
Buffy looked at the tweed again, then down at the
No…it wasn't his fault that things would never be the
way they used to be…
It didn't take long to finish getting ready. They drove
to the restaurant in silence. Giles had called ahead and they were shown
straight to a table. He seated her formally before seating himself.
Buffy watched him curiously. His glasses were in the
pocket of his leather jacket and he was deep in thought.
There was nothing startlingly different about him,
except that they weren't sparring, she wasn't waiting for instructions, nor
asking for advice, or trying to avoid being told to do something she didn't want
to do. Instead they were just…spending time. It made her curious. She studied
him as they browsed the menus left on the table for them, deciding that she
preferred him without the glasses, when he replaced them to read.
A few moments later he put down his menu and looked at
her over them. "Do I have a smut?"
"Huh?" she asked, surprised.
"You've been staring for several minutes. Either I
have been transformed into your favourite film star or I have grown horns or a
third eye…or I need badly to wipe my nose. Which is it to be?"
"Eiww…though you'd look kinda cute with
horns…little ones," she teased.
He removed the glasses and put them back in his pocket
before fixing an exasperated eye on her.
She shrugged. "You're different tonight. All we do
is train and discuss and brainstorm and…you know. This is nice.
He relaxed a little and half smiled. "Yes it is.
Have you decided what you're having?"
Frustrated, without knowing why, Buffy nodded. She
chose an entrée of shrimp sautéed in garlic and olive oil, and then grinned as
she chose the house paella.
When the waiter arrived shortly afterward, Giles
ordered for both of them and deferred dessert until Buffy was ready to choose
"You look different without your glasses. Did you
ever wear contacts?"
He tilted his head to one side as the waiter departed.
"Is this like the computer thing?"
He looked amused. "It was. Now I just can't be
"You're a lot cuter without them. You'd get more
dates with contacts."
"Why are you so interested in my love life all of
"What kind of desserts do you get in a Spanish
restaurant?" she asked evasively.
"Spanish ones," he deadpanned.
"So do you?"
"What?" he asked, exasperated again.
The tawny head tilted again. "You've never been
interested in my personal life before. Are you sure there isn't anything
Buffy frowned. "No. Nothing wrong. I just…well
He sighed and shook his head slowly. "No
one," he admitted. "Happy now?"
Buffy picked up a slender fork and poked her serviette
with it. "Has it been a long time?" she asked, without looking up.
"Has what…?" he began, then stopped and
closed his mouth. "What has gotten into you?" he asked a moment later.
She shrugged without looking up. "I never thought
about it before. It's only been like, a few months, for me. If I'm reading you
right you haven't…um…since Olivia broke up with you right after we fought
the Gentlemen. Isn't that sorta bad for a guy?"
He laughed in spite of himself. "You're worrying
about my health?" he said between chuckles.
Buffy put down the fork. "Giles, I don't know what
I'm worrying about. I just…I never thought about it before…what it's like
for you…here. You must hate it."
"Not all of it," he said softly, his eyes
holding hers for a long time.
The entrees arrived and ended the moment. They both
attended their food awkwardly, neither sure how to, or even if they wanted to,
return to it again.
The conversation moved on to shop talk, horses and
whether or not Xander and Anya would go through with their engagement.
By the time they headed back out into the night and
turned towards the BMW, Buffy was acutely aware of the man alongside her, even
though he seemed unnaturally preoccupied.
They were only about a foot apart but it seemed like
"Giles," she said softly, just as he was
about to turn the ignition.
He paused, without looking at her. "Yes?"
"Are we…are we okay?"
He nodded and turned the key. "I will see you in
the morning…that is of course if you want to continue the lessons?"
Buffy made a frustrated noise and put a hand on his
arm. "Giles, talk to me. Did I do something wrong?"
Giles looked at the fingers clutching his sleeve and
shook his head slowly. "Nothing," he whispered. "Nothing at
all." He put the car in gear and pulled away from the kerb.
Somehow, Buffy knew that wasn't meant to reassure at
all. She watched the red car pull away after they said an awkward goodnight and
she thanked him for the meal, wondering what exactly was going on and what was
happening to them.
She was still wondering the next morning when they got
out of the car at the ranch. She watched Giles catch two horses instead of one,
holding her breath as he approached the second, a powerful black gelding, who
was far less impressed than Siobhan with the idea of having his leisure
interrupted. Giles, however, was not intimidated and it soon became apparent
that the two were acquainted. The standoff was over in the blink of an eye when
Giles produced a treat from one of his pockets.
Moments later he brought both horses to the gate, which
Buffy duly opened and closed for him.
"You expecting Sarah back?" she asked,
breaking a silence that had stretched from her 'good morning', and his
responding 'morning,' hours before.
Giles seemed to rouse from faraway thoughts.
"What? Oh, no. I understand there are several auctions and a number of
private sales, as well as personal visiting. I'm not expecting her back until
early next week."
"Going to introduce your friend, then?"
Giles looked at the big horse. "My usual mount
when I ride with Sarah. His name is Rajah. Actually he has about seven names on
his papers, but Rajah will suffice. He only answers to Raj, anyway."
"So we're riding together today?"
"I thought you would like to do something
different, outside, today. It's a lovely day…too lovely to waste inside."
Buffy looked up at the vivid blue sky, the insanely
cheerful sun and the happy little puffs of clouds dotting it, all completely
unaware that they would burn off within hours. It had been so long since she'd
actually spent time doing anything that didn't involve college or work, taking
care of Dawn or slaying, that it seemed wrong, somehow, for the day to be
"Okay," she said simply.
When they emerged from the tack room, she saddled
Siobhan alone for the first time, while Giles dealt with his much fresher mount,
convincing the gelding that being bridled really wasn't that bad, before fussing
over his feet, scraping away gross stuff and grass from the field, and checking
Buffy did the same before swinging the saddle onto the
mare's back. She ran her fingers under the cinched girth the way Giles had shown
her and pulled the stirrup irons down before rubbing Siobhan's neck and stepping
back to watch Rajah's reaction to being saddled. Surprisingly, with a few gentle
words from Giles, he stood quietly, apart from periodic foot stomping and some
mean tail swishing.
"Is he going to be difficult?"
Giles turned after he'd tightened the girth for the
second time. "Lord no," he said. "He's a little fractious from
lack of recent work, but he's been schooled and worked and shown for eight
years. His manners are impeccable. This is just his personal commentary on the
injustice of being required to work on a beautiful day like this."
"Doctor Dolittle," Buffy teased.
Giles swung up into the saddle and waited patiently
while his charge pranced and danced and flexed his magnificent neck before
snorting and responding to the gentle pressure of his hands and legs.
Buffy watched him in silence. He was wearing the same
pants and boots, but this time he was wearing a black pullover shirt under an
old, very worn in the elbows, dark leather jacket. She guessed that it might
once have been a mottled black-grey colour, but the leather was soft and faded
now. He'd put his glasses away again for safety and the light breeze was blowing
his hair back as he settled the big animal.
A moment later she shook herself and stopped staring
long enough to spring up onto Siobhan's back, gather the reins and bring the
mare to the side of the other pair.
"So where are we going?" she managed, aware
that her voice cracked rather noticeably.
"I'm going to show you the ranch. There is a
bridle path right across the property, which stretches to the outer limits of
Breaker's woods, through some old-growth woods of its own."
"Am I ready to do the John Wayne thing?" she
"There will be no 'John Wayne' anything," he
told her tersely. "You will practise what we've already learned until and
unless I tell you otherwise, and if you do it well enough there will be an
opportunity for you to experience your first canter, and possibly even a gallop,
if all goes well."
"Still stuffy," she muttered as they headed
They followed what seemed to be a familiar route, a
half worn horse-width track through several pastures, taking turns opening and
closing gates, Buffy making disparaging comments about Giles' ability to go
through a gate without dismounting and how mean he was to make her take turns
when she did have to get down each time.
The warmth of the sun, the smell of the air, the
bruised grass and the various scents of flowers, pine, leather and horse on the
breeze combined to make a lazy, soothing journey and, for a time, the kind of
peace Buffy couldn't remember last knowing.
When Giles closed another gate and they turned for the
last open expanse before the woods in the distance, Rajah began to prance a
little and shake his head.
"Time to shake out some cobwebs," Giles said,
amused. He ran through the basics of the canter for Buffy, reminding her about
due care of the horse's mouth and to keep her heels down. "Before you try,
I'm going to run some of these oats out of my friend here. Hold Siobhan, and
Buffy watched, holding the mare in, the gelding's tail
flying like a banner as they flew across the open ground, hooves barely touching
the grass as Giles let the big horse have his head and joined in the joy and
exhilaration of the flight until they had almost reached the woods line in the
When they returned, she watched even more closely. It
was a magnificent picture, Giles in full control of a thousand pounds of flying
coal-black muscle and pure beauty, flushed, hair blown in the wind, eyes glowing
with pleasure as they came to a halt next to her.
"Been a while?"
"Quite. I haven't uum…since before you
ah…" He trailed off, both of them well aware of which event he was
"Can I try?" she asked, not wanting to linger
"No galloping," he said a little
breathlessly, over the blowing of his mount. "Do as I taught you. Remember
what I said, and only for a hundred yards or so, then bring her back."
"Spoil sport," she muttered.
Giles watched her with trepidation, but she followed
all of his instructions and Siobhan responded accordingly. He could see that she
was enjoying the thrill and the speed, and like all beginners, was distracted
enough by the new experience to forget what she was doing with her legs.
Accordingly Siohban slowed to a trot and Buffy bumped about until she collected
herself and the mare and urged her back into a canter again.
By the time they'd returned Buffy seemed to have a good
grasp of what she was doing and was as rosy and exhilarated as he had been.
Again they stared at each other for a long moment
before either spoke.
"I could get to really like this horsey
stuff," Buffy observed almost self-consciously, despite the attempt at
Giles chuckled equally as self-consciously. "Shall
we?" he asked, a little too obvious in his own attempt to evade the growing
atmosphere between them.
They rode almost together. Certainly Rajah and Siobhan
seemed to enjoy cantering side by side. Several times Giles allowed Rajah to
stretch into a gallop to see how Buffy handled Siobhan's attempts to follow.
Invariably she allowed the mare to match the gelding's gait, but didn't seem in
the least fazed by the acceleration.
They came to a halt at the edge of the woods.
Giles turned Rajah so that he could see her face.
"You enjoyed the run?"
"You didn't tell me galloping was that much of a
He found himself smiling widely. He hadn't expected her
to take so whole-heartedly to something he loved so much. They shared so few
common interests he sometimes despaired that he'd ever share as much of her
company as any of the others in her life. At times even Spike seemed to command
more of her attention than he did…
"You did well. We'll work on your technique later.
Would you like to explore the woods, or revise all your lessons to date out here
in the sunshine for a while?"
Buffy looked at the trees and back at the field.
"We have to leave the horses to go in there?"
She patted the mare's neck. "I like riding just
fine. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to walk far, anyway. It took ages the
other day for my legs to stop feeling like they'd been wrapped around a beach
ball for hours."
Giles' spirits dropped a little. He'd been looking
forward to the idea of just walking and talking for a while. He wasn't sure what
they would have talked about or exactly why he'd been looking forward to it so
much, but he immediately dismissed his disappointment and smiled again.
"Good show. Practise is just the thing right
Buffy looked at him with amusement. "Giles, when
did you get all British again? You haven't said something like 'good show' in
He looked down at his hands. She was right. He was
being a dolt and he had no idea why.
"Nostalgia, I daresay," he said huskily.
"Now, let me see you walk Siobhan in a circle…a good sized one, and we'll
work on your seat, hands and your transition to the trot…"
They had been working for more than an hour when Giles
agreed that Buffy could cool Siobhan out with another easy canter across the
The two horses ran side by side again, and both of them
were enjoying the rush of air against their sweat soaked clothes, cooling and
enjoyable, when a jackrabbit was suddenly flushed from its resting place,
bounding across their path and startling both horses.
Giles managed to hold his seat and rein in the gelding
but Buffy had no chance of doing the same before Siobhan jibbed sideways
Within seconds Giles was on the ground, running to
where Buffy had landed heavily and was now laying with her eyes closed.
Well trained, Siobhan halted only metres away when her
reins fell to the ground, the jackrabbit long gone.
"Buffy?" he cried, sliding to her side.
"Ow," she moaned and opened her eyes.
He exhaled and his colour started to return.
"Did I mention 'ow'?" she growled as he
helped her to a sitting position. "What happened?"
"Siobhan was startled by a rabbit," he
explained hoarsely. "Are you all right?"
"Nothing's busted, if that's what you mean."
He helped her to her feet, bringing them not more than
six inches from each other, his gentle hands holding her elbows, her hands
steadying her very bruised self against his chest.
"Giles, you're shaking." Buffy was shocked,
despite the fact that she was still shaking a little herself.
He swallowed. "It's nothing. You fell heavily and
She could hear the emotion in his voice, emotion he
rarely, if ever showed.
"Well, that's okay, because so am I," she
teased, aware that suddenly, overwhelmingly, all she wanted to do was lean
against the strong torso and feel someone's arms around her again. It had been
Before she could change her mind, she slid her arms
around him and rested her head against his shirt. It was warm, and solid, and
her whole body reacted to his nearness.
Giles felt a tremor go through him. He knew Buffy would
feel it but he couldn't stop it. She did, and he felt her arms respond by
tightening around him. Silently, he wrapped his around her just as tightly and
simply held her.
For a long time neither of them moved. Neither wanted
to. Too many years of hurt and pain and restraint had suddenly compressed into
that one tiny moment of surrender.
They moved at the same time, Buffy looking up and Giles
looking down. Neither realised, but both of them looked like rabbits caught in
the glare of car headlights, unable to do anything but stare into each other's
eyes, and, they slowly realised, deep into each other's souls.
There had been no time to slam the shutters up, to hide
secrets and tender vulnerabilities behind well-worn, predictable behaviour or
the casual humour that usually characterised their inability to communicate with
each other on any other level.
When the silence started to approach forever, Buffy
slowly reached up to touch his cheek with unsteady fingers.
Just as tentatively he covered the hand, the silence
stretching as they continued to look at each other.
"Buffy…?" he finally managed, in little
more than a whisper.
"What's happening to us?" she whispered back,
fear in her voice. "I don't understand …what I feel…this…you…us. I
don't know what's happening to me. Tell me."
"I can't," Giles said sadly. "Only you
can do that."
"You don't know?"
"I don't know what's in your heart, Buffy. I only
know what's in mine," he said very gently.
For a moment she looked dazed, and then she blinked,
remembering what she'd seen in his eyes, what she'd felt as she'd fallen into
Her blue-grey ones widened in sudden, startled
"H-how…?" she managed, pulling away to
think. "I mean…no…this…I can't be…"
Giles arms dropped, defeated, to his sides. He watched
her bleakly, resignedly.
Buffy looked up again, looking for answers, and saw the
expression on his face.
"No…Giles…it's…it's okay." She came
back, leaned her brow against his shirt. "God, I'm so confused."
Some of the tension went out of him and he rested his
brow on the top of her head.
"Well, look at it this way," he said softly,
a ghost of a smile back in his voice, "at least you're not worrying about
falling off the damned horse this time."
She giggled, making him laugh with her. Then they were
both chuckling, hers soggy and punctuated by tiny snorts, his nervous and
Eventually she lifted her head and looked at him again,
real desolation in her eyes.
"I can't be in love with you. I lose everyone I
love…and I can't lose you." Her voice dropped to a desperate whisper.
"I can't lose you, Giles…"
He took her face in his hands. "In five years of
every kind of nightmare, have you ever looked like losing me?" he asked,
masking the wild surge of hope, hardly daring to believe what he'd just heard.
She nodded. "Do you want a list?" she teased.
"Blast," he said with feeling, making her
giggle again. Then he looked at her with great tenderness. "Regardless,
love, I'm not going anywhere."
"Giles, I'm scared," she whispered.
"Of me? Why?"
Buffy shook her head, her face moving in his palms.
"I could never be scared of you. It's just…everything is different…just
like that. I can't love you," she said again.
"Would it be so very terrible?" he asked
gently, "Loving me?"
Fear still burned in her eyes. "No, it's not
that…it's…I just can't do it. When I love someone badness happens…and I
can't do that again…especially not to you."
Giles' face lit up in a smile of great tenderness and
his voice was gentle. "What if I told you that there is nothing I want more
in the world than for you to love me as much as I love you?"
"But…badness," she said weakly, growing
more aware by the second of the warm touch of his hands on her face.
"We have faced just about every kind of 'badness'
known to man, and many which were not. Buffy, you and I, together, are stronger
than we can ever be apart."
For a long moment she was silent again, then she moved
to free herself, but she didn't move away. Instead she reached up to stroke his
"You know you deserve better," she said
"Probably," he agreed ruefully and chuckled
when she thumped his arm, before locking his soft jade gaze with hers. "But
I don't want better, or different, or other. And in the end that is all that
matters…I want you. I've waited for you…I would have waited a lifetime if I
thought there was any chance…"
"But…Riley," he countered dryly.
"No he wasn't. But for a time, particularly after
we fought Adam, I believed he was. I was ready to go home, you know, until you
asked me to start training you again."
Buffy looked stunned, and then her expression changed
to one of resignation. "I deserved that," she said simply.
Giles blinked. Even just weeks ago she would have
reacted badly, even perhaps a little irrationally to such a revelation.
"No you didn't," he said softly. "A
great many things happened last year, but I was your Watcher, whether official
or not, and I was about to desert you for no other reason than I couldn't bear
to watch you being happy with another man, couldn't bear to stand by and see you
drift further and further out of my life."
"But you never said…"
He moved away then. "What would you have had me
say? 'Buffy, you have to stop seeing young Finn, because your pathetic old
has-been Watcher needs you'?"
Buffy looked away. He was right. She wouldn't have
understood. She might even have hurt him more. She hadn't understood a lot of
things, until her mother died. It took her own death to make everything else
clear, to open her eyes to so much about her life, and to understand, finally,
who she was and where she truly belonged.
Giles, who had been watching her face in profile, saw
the changing expressions of regret and sadness that passed over it and drew his
own conclusions. His own expression grew sad and resigned before he exhaled
softly and turned to go and collect the horses.
Buffy looked up, surprised at the movement. She saw the
slump in his shoulders as he picked up Rajah's reins without even speaking to
the beast, led him to where Siobhan was grazing quietly. He came back very
slowly and handed her the mare's reins, before turning to the gelding.
At a loss and wondering what had just happened, Buffy
followed his lead, mounted, and rode silently with him all the way back to the
ranch. They worked swiftly and efficiently to put the horses away before
climbing silently in the car and driving back to town.
Just yards before Giles was to take the turning that
would take him across town to Revello drive, Buffy finally broke the silence.
"No," she said as he turned the indicator on.
Giles turned off the indicator and complied, again
surprised, and a little apprehensive.
Once inside the flat, Buffy dropped her bag on the
floor, went to his desk and sat on it.
"What happened?" she said simply, ignoring
the obvious nervousness in her voice.
He blinked. "I don't understand."
"Giles, when I died again…if I learned anything,
it's how much I don't want to leave anything undone, ever again. And we left the
mother-load undone back there."
He shook his head and opened his mouth to speak.
"And no, I do not want a cup of tea," she
growled, though there was warmth in her eyes.
His mouth curled up in response, but he was too tense
to really smile. "I rather thought your reaction said it all," he
ventured, certain that whatever he said would be the wrong thing.
"My reaction?" she repeated. "Let's see:
I'm scared. I have a scary record of hurting everybody I love and I'm terrified
you'll get hurt too…you have a great body…and I really need you to hold me
again…and oh, wait a minute…I just realised after five years that I'm so in
love with you it's probably the reason I trashed every relationship I started,
or considered starting, last year…" she finished dryly. "So…which
of these would we be talking about now?"
Giles was staring at her, stunned.
Buffy watched his face shift from shock to amazement to
blazing emotion. "Buffy…"
And then she was moving…and, finally, in his arms
When they parted it was reluctantly, slowly, almost
awkwardly, and only enough to see each other's faces.
As Buffy watched his discomfort, memories of another
time and a tweed-clad Giles, just as awkward and unsure, flooded back.
"You look like you could use that tea we were
talking about earlier."
His smiled, his head bending sheepishly, just as she
lifted hers to tease him more.
They both froze, millimetres from each other's lips,
from the feathering caress of each other's breath.
Buffy's body stirred, responding to the combination of
the warmth of his body, his scent, his strength. Almost imperceptibly, she
Giles, frozen between desire and restraint, felt the
tender lips against his and knew he was lost. A hundred lifetimes of waiting for
this moment, of watching her grow into the beautiful woman he knew she would
become, and more hours than he wanted to remember despairing that the day would
ever come that she might look at him and see more than just…
Buffy felt his mouth respond to hers, and thrilled as
he took over the kiss and drew her into his arms. The passion, the power in his
lovemaking was surpassed only by the gentleness of his hands, the hunger of his
lips. She strained to them, losing herself in the communion of their hearts,
their two fleshes, until they both had to stop.
Giles was breathing hard, his heart glowing in his
"It…it's too fast…too soon," he
Buffy reached up and touched the beautiful, sensual
lips. "No it's not," she said simply and let her fingers trail down to
his throat, where she started to unbutton his shirt. When she was done she drew
it off slowly, Giles watching her every move, but hardly daring to breathe.
Buffy watched his eyes close as she drew her fingertips
through the surprisingly soft golden brown hair on his chest. Then she started
to remove her blouse. When she took her hand away, he opened his eyes again and
drew a sharp breath as the top fell to the floor.
She was as exquisite as he had dreamed, this love of
his, no higher than his heart, and so very new…yet aeons older than he in so
She stepped forward again to reach for his belt, but he
The moment that passed between them asked the
question…and both answered it without speaking a word. After a slow, shared
smile, Giles swept her into his arms and carried her up to the loft.
Buffy could hear and feel his heart pounding, despite
the fact that he wasn't even breathing hard. When they reached his room, he laid
her on his quilt and gently removed all vestiges of any barrier between the two
of them, before taking her fingertips and drawing her up to him again.
She forgot to breathe. He was…stunning. She had
expected age to weigh heavily on his slim physique, but it made little
difference to the wide shoulders and broad chest with its covering of hair, or
the slim hips and long legs. It wasn't that he looked like a gym rat, as much as
it was obvious that his body had been shaped by life, the muscles real and hard
earned, not manufactured in a gymnasium, nor were the grim scars scattered here
and there, painted there by some seedy, backstreet tattooist.
His kiss was tender at first, their lips beginning a
slow dance their bodies longed to emulate. It grew more and more intense, more
passionate as they continued.
Then Giles shifted to slide his hands down her silky
back and lift her until her body was pressed to his, her legs curling around his
waist, his mouth finding and worshipping the soft sweet curves of her breasts.
Buffy gasped and threw her head back, groaning, and
pressing her body even harder against his arched one. His expert caresses,
combined with her growing desire to know every inch of him, electrified every
inch of her body and spread heat from the burning core of her pressing against
his waist, to the roots of her hair and the tips of her toes. There was, too, an
almost primal feel to the big hands holding her soft buttocks and drawing her
ever closer to him that inflamed the sensuality of their union even more.
She could hear the small noises he was making and feel
the urgency in his lovemaking as he continued to worship her body. It made her
crave the chance to make him groan out loud.
Eventually, she moved enough so that he finally let her
slide down his large frame, both of them shuddering as her damp core found his
rigid, straining one for a brief moment, before he lay her back on the bed
Buffy circled his neck with her arms and they kissed
again, tenderly, fiercely, erotically, before he shifted to trail his mouth down
between the now super-sensitised breasts. Then he moved very slowly on downwards
to discover even more sensitised flesh and to smile to himself as she gasped and
shuddered when the combination of lips, tongue and breath drove new nerve
endings to distraction. He followed the inside curve of her groin to the even
more sensitive flesh of her inner thigh, enjoying her vocal response to the
stimulation and the knowledge that the arching of those sweet hips to meet his
caresses was a silent, demanding plea.
He continued to make her crazy with his tormenting,
straying with feather soft touches of his lips to her now throbbing centre until
she let out a strangled: "Oh God!" when he finally let his tongue slip
across the tender sweetness being lifted toward him each time his mouth, even
his breath, brushed by it.
At that he relented.
Buffy didn't hold back her gasping cries of ecstasy as
he expertly explored every inch, every fold, every tender layer of her tormented
heat until her sudden writhing and whimpering made him rise swiftly to her.
Even as her legs closed greedily around him and her
arms drew his beloved head down to hers, Giles moved to meet her lifting hips.
Buffy could feel him trembling with the intensity of
his desire as he pushed into the heat of her throbbing core, both of them
gasping and rocking from their body's reactions to the joining of their two
He lifted his head from their kiss to look into her
eyes when they finally came together, his fingers stroking wild strands of hair
from her face and touching her lips as she smiled up at him.
His expression was a mixture of love, desire and awe,
tinged with the merest shadow of lingering doubt…until he saw her smile.
Spontaneously, his own face lit up with not only his own joy, but what seemed to
be an infusion of hers, his grin dazzling, his eyes glowing with passion.
"I love you," she whispered and heard his
sudden indrawn breath.
His grin widened and his eyes grew very bright.
"My love," he whispered unsteadily.
After a beat, he bent his head to meet her lips and to
kiss her again, very gently, before making love to her, slowly at first, and
then, as they both felt desire surge through them again, with more and more
power, as Giles strove to fulfil her demands and rise to his own.
For long minutes they revelled in each other, in the
act, in the joy of being one and the sheer eroticism of their passion, but both
knew their long-untested control was tenuous at best and their need
Matching each other stroke for stroke, they strove to
give each other everything, Buffy lifting her hips higher and higher as her body
screamed for completion, and Giles shifting forward to meet that demand. He
plunged deeper and deeper until she gave a strangled, exultant gasp and began to
thrash and writhe and spasm around him, the sounds and sensations of her
unbridled pleasure too much for his already charged senses.
He threw his head back as he thrust one last time and
felt everything inside him explode, sending waves and waves of pleasure crashing
over him, as he joined Buffy in the same maelstrom of ecstasy.
Eventually, finally, they both fell silent, and he
looked down into her eyes.
"Hey," she whispered. "Anyone would
think we hadn't…you know…for months…or something," she teased.
He chuckled, still breathing a little heavily, and
brushed her mouth with his.
"Hey…" he mimicked softly. "All
She touched his face. "Way more than all
right," she reassured him. "Trust you, though. What happened to
the usual manly, chest-beating: 'was it good for you?'" she teased.
He reddened delightfully. "I think my
chest-beating days are rather a long way behind me," he pointed out
ruefully then beamed mischievously. "Besides, I rather thought you made the
answer to that question quite clear when you decided to let all of my neighbours
know exactly what we were doing a few minutes ago."
It was Buffy's turn to redden. "I was that
He grinned even more widely and nodded before they both
started to laugh. While they were still giggling he rolled to one side and drew
her into his arms, where she curled up happily against his chest.
"Mrs Porteous will probably never speak to me
again," he pointed out.
"Jealous," Buffy purred.
"Heart attack, more likely," he corrected
dryly. "Mrs Porteous is seventy-five and of an era where such things are
not meant to be shared."
Buffy giggled again and played with the hair over his
sternum. "Maybe she's out today. Anyway, she's going to have to get used to
us sharing from now on."
He sighed contentedly and drew her closer, felt her
kiss his chin before snuggling her silky head in under it again.
"That she is," he agreed, smiling, and closed
his eyes, unaware that she had already closed hers. Within moments they had
drifted into the most peaceful, dream-free slumber either had known in many
Giles watched Buffy and Dawn circle the yard on their
respective riding school mounts, both of them easily handling the tasks given to
them by the instructor. The younger Summers seemed content with her adventure
and pleased with her sister's presence, and Buffy seemed content to let Dawn
enjoy her day.
When the lessons were over and the mounts handed back,
they came to where he was still leaning on the fence of the outdoor ring.
"So how'd I do?" Dawn asked, having been
informed in great detail by Buffy about Giles' interest and expertise in things
"You did very well for your first time," he
told her good-naturedly.
"What about Buffy?"
He flicked a glance at her and the two of them
exchanged amused looks. "Well, it isn't quite her first time, however I
think she did at least as well as you."
Dawn looked pleased, which was his intent. "Great,
then we can come again? I want to get good enough to go to one of those ranches
with Melinda…you know…with the quarter horses and cook-outs and lots of cute
Buffy rolled her eyes skyward. "And where exactly
are you getting the money to bankroll this big adventure?" she asked dryly.
Dawn subsided for a moment, her expression clearly
reflecting her opinion of older sisters, especially the stick in the mud
"If you do particularly well in your results at
school, I'm sure something can be arranged during the summer," Giles said
Both girls looked at him, Dawn with hero-worship in her
eyes and Buffy bemused, but with a distinct look of 'wait until I get you home'
Giles winked at Dawn and then turned a look of
wide-eyed innocence to his love.
"Provided she performs well in her studies, I'm
sure we could survive for a week or two without Dawn's stellar presence during
the summer vacation," he pointed out, looking like butter wouldn't melt in
his mouth, except for the amusement and mischief gleaming in his eyes.
It only took a beat for Buffy to catch on, and then
have to work very hard not to laugh aloud.
"I'll think about it," she conceded, trying
to look stern.
Dawn looked from one to the other. "You guys are
up to something."
Giles attempted to look innocent. "No, no. Not up
to anything. Just having a difference of opinion."
Dawn's eyes narrowed as the older pair continued to
look at each other, both of them sickeningly happy and looking at each other as
"Oh God," she said suddenly, her eyes
widening as thing started falling alarmingly into place. "Tell me
that nothing happened when you two were spending all that extra time together
these last few weeks!"
"Okay," Buffy deadpanned. "Nothing
Giles turned a guffaw into a cough and Buffy shot
daggers at him.
"Okay, spill," Dawn demanded, too astute to
be distracted. "I may be a kid, but I've gotten old really fast,
lately… remember?" she added in a mock-dramatic voice, while looking down
her pert nose.
Giles sighed and took the lead. "Your sister and I
are…seeing each other. Get your eiewws and assorted retching noises out of the
way now, because I won't tolerate them in the car or any time thereafter."
"And I'm going to do this why?" she asked
contrarily. "You may be old, but considering Buffy's previous taste in men
you're a relief. Besides, you're perfect."
Giles found himself grinning. "I am?" he
asked, so unexpected was her response.
"Sure," Dawn told him with the perfect
reasoning of the young. "You know all of it…everything…you know about
all Buffy's stuff: the whole deal. You also happen to be her Watcher and you
know about all the crap that goes with being the Slayer…and you still love
her…" She rolled her eyes at Giles' startled look. "Oh, come on,
don't look at me like that. Everyone's always known you love her, even without
the smoochie part, and nobody in their right minds with a brain the size of
yours would have hung around this dump after Sunnydale High blew up, unless
there was something…or someone they couldn't leave."
Giles' smile faded. Out of the mouths of babes…
He cleared his throat. "Never mind the state of my
mind," he growled. "And for your information I am forty bloody six,
and nowhere near my grave yet."
Buffy moved close and leaned against him, sliding her
arms around his waist. "He's right, you know. Harrison Ford is way older
"Harrison Ford is way old, period," Dawn
"How about that guy you like in Farscape?"
Dawn looked wary. "What?" she demanded.
Buffy smirked. "George
The teenager rolled her eyes.
"Okay, Brad Pitt," Buffy shot back.
Dawn's eyes widened. "Very funny. You are so full
"Thirt-TEE…eight," Buffy reiterated.
"And Michael Jackson…forty-three."
The younger Summers looked even more startled then
wrinkled her nose. "How can you tell? I am so not ever having plastic
"Don't change the subject," Buffy shot back.
"Just tell Giles he's not old, and it wouldn't hurt to admit that he's
really cute while you're at it."
Giles cleared his throat. "It's all right, Dawn.
When Buffy wasn't much more than your age she thought anyone over twenty-five
was ancient…" He dodged an elbow and continued mischievously.
"Unless of course you're two-hundred and forty years old and dead, which
is, apparently, perfectly acceptable when you're sixteen. Oomph…"
Dawn giggled as Giles recovered from the elbow that had
finally found its mark.
"Well, Spike is kind of cute for a dead guy and
he's like, over a hundred."
Giles looked down his nose, no longer smiling.
"Spike is not cute," he said tersely.
The younger girl looked unimpressed. "Now you
sound like 'schoolteacher Giles'. You may look younger and cuter in those
clothes, and the no glasses and the earring might be sexy, but I still think
"Dawn!" Buffy growled.
"No, no…on balance I think I actually won that
one," Giles observed, amused.
Buffy frowned then rolled her eyes, before fixing her
sister with a glare. "Fine," she said. "As long as that's the
last time she ever says it out loud."
Dawn shrugged. "Fine," she mimicked.
"But I still think Spike is cute. Can I go to Melinda's when we get
"Are you staying over?"
Buffy and Giles looked at each other and then at Dawn
again. "Yes," they chorused.
"God," she grimaced. "You guys are
disgusting. Glasshouses are less transparent than you two."
Giles and Buffy watched her swagger off to the car then
turned to each other again.
"A week…maybe two weeks…of just us? I can deal
He grinned. "I thought it might appeal."
Buffy's eyes were alight. After their first time
together they had managed little more than snatched moments between patrols,
research, caring for Dawn, and Giles' obligations at the Magic Store.
"Will and Tara can look after the house and I can
stay with you. I'll be able to come back to the apartment after patrol…and
stay for breakfast," she sighed happily.
Giles nodded. "Pity it's still six weeks
Buffy's glow dimmed a little, then she smiled impishly
again and moved close enough to slide her hand inside his shirt. "Major
downer," she agreed as the fingers withdrew and moved again, to trail down
to his thigh and over the newly-tightened curve of his jeans, eliciting an
appreciative shudder from him. "We'll just have to find ways to make
tonight really count."
"I have a number of ideas," he agreed,
drawing her close and bending his head, smiling against her soft mouth as her
arms curled around his neck. He slid his around the slender body and lifted her
without relinquishing her lips, so that she was hard against him. Their kiss
grew even more passionate.
The two heads separated quickly, Buffy flushed and
rosy-cheeked and Giles breathing heavily.
"Do I have to sit in the car all day while you two
make with the gross public displays?"
Giles cleared his throat and put Buffy down.
The Slayer scowled at her precocious sister. "Car.
Now," she growled.
Dawn wrinkled her nose. "So does that mean you're
finished sucking face?"
"No, we're not," Giles said reasonably.
"But we will desist long enough to get you home before Melinda begins to
Dawn's eyes narrowed, aware that she was being got at,
then huffed and marched back to the car again.
"Nice of Melinda to be so keen about Dawn going
over there to stay," Giles observed contentedly.
"Yeah," Buffy purred, biting into another
chocolate, "and pretty cool that Willow and Tara offered to give us the
He opened his mouth when she offered the other half of
the soft centre and closed his lips on her fingers as she slipped the candy in.
"Mm," she growled low in her throat. "I
think I want to go home now."
Giles slid his hands up, underneath the white crossover
blouse, sensually caressing her sun-warmed body.
"Are you sure?"
"Oh yeah," she sighed.
His fingers continued to explore, cupping her soft,
unfettered breasts and causing her to arch her back, moving them towards him
before growling and sliding her arms around his neck.
"The journey would interfere rather with the
spontaneity of the moment," he pointed out good-naturedly but with a
deliberately and distinctly Ripper-ish undertone, "don't you think?"
Buffy kissed his chin. "What I think is that I'd
like to ravage your body right now but… given the choice, I'd rather it was in
our bed than under a tree with the bugs." A snort close by made her turn
her head briefly and smile. "Besides we don't want to scar Siobhan and
Diablo for life."
Giles slipped a hand free and drew her head down to
his, capturing her lips and encouraging her most convincingly to rethink the
situation. They continued until Buffy's jeans were discarded and she was
straddling his lap, enjoying the evidence of his spontaneity.
They came up for breath long enough for him to say,
Buffy moved slowly against him. "I think bribery
will get you everywhere…"
Moments later Giles' head was thrown back in the grass,
his breath rapid and noisy, his hips arching like a teenager as Buffy's surprise
attack sent bolts of electricity through his body. It had been an incredibly
long time since…even his brief interludes with Olivia hadn't gone on long
enough to get to…
His mind went blank as Buffy's soft lips closed around
him and slid down his length. For a long time he revelled in the unadulterated
pleasure, until, as he had with Buffy, she sensed him tense, discarded her tiny
briefs, and moved over him, sliding down until her damp softness found his
"Oh God yes!" he breathed as she shifted and
took him, plunging down it's length with an audible moan of appreciation. She
smiled as she felt his hands close possessively around her soft globes adding
pressure as though guiding her to him, making her movements twice as erotic,
though in reality she was completely in control.
Their coupling grew wild and loud, fed by their
celebration of being together again, the unfettered sounds of their passion and
the carnal nature of their union. Buffy rode him until he was gasping, on the
precipice of the same orgasm she'd almost brought him to earlier with lips and
tongue and mouth, only this time he could feel it building like no orgasm he
could remember beyond his Eyghon years.
"Buffy!" he managed to half-moan, half cry
She covered his mouth with hers as her hips increased
their worship of his body, her vice-like channel driving him insane as she drove
and ground herself against him, her own pleasure spiralling upwards with her
Moments later Giles heard Buffy begin to whimper
demandingly and gasp, felt her speed up even more. It was enough for the chain
reaction to unleash itself. He roared, heedless of the snorting and stamping
from the startled horses as Buffy cried out, "Ruper-r-r-r-t!" at the
top of her lungs in a pleasure-strangled scream of ecstasy.
On and on it went, until they finally collapsed, both
trying to catch their breath.
Giles slid his arms around the slender body moulding
itself to his, as he lay collapsed on the grass, and kissed the soft-scented
Her contented face turned so that she could catch his
lips playfully. "I love you," she sighed.
His arms tightened and Buffy felt him sigh just as
contentedly. "And I you," he told her and kissed her back.
They were interrupted by Siobhan, whinnying in response
to the distant bugle of another horse, Diablo snorting and stomping unhappily.
Giles chuckled. "It's just Sarah's stud, Gus,
checking on his brood."
"Gus?" Buffy murmured. "What kind of
name is that for a stallion?"
"Well his name is actually Scottsglade
Heatherleigh Galahad's Pride. Gus is a stable name and just a little easier for
him to remember…at least he likes it."
"Mm…you know I like 'Rupert' for a real
stallion," she teased.
He chuckled and kissed her hair. "Silly
Buffy smiled against his chest and snuggled closer
until he jumped violently.
"What?" she asked, scrambling up.
"Giles, are you okay?"
"Ow," he said again, curling upwards and
getting to his feet swiftly, rubbing his hip.
Buffy investigated immediately. A large welt had
already come up just above his left buttock, where the band of his jeans had
been pushed down.
"Something bit you," she told him, trying to
keep a straight face as she turned to check out the ground.
By the time she'd found the trail of ants, winding
their way through the grass, he had his pants back on and was looking less than
"Ant bite," she told him and pointed.
"See, big ones. Ouchies."
"Yes," he said sulkily, still massaging his
hip through his clothes, "I rather got that part."
"Poor baby," she crooned as she dressed again
herself. "I think we should go right home. Dawn won't be back for at least
another six hours and I can think of lots of ways of taking your mind off your
He laughed as she wrapped her arms around him again
when she was done. "I suppose I should be grateful it was just an ant. Home
sounds just about right now. How about we pick up some ice cream along the way?
A day like this and," he rubbed his bite again, "a battle scar like
this one, deserves ice cream."
"Totally," Buffy agreed as they turned arm in
arm for the horses and whispered something quietly to him.
"Buffy!" he snorted, then laughed…
"…Can you really do that with ice cream?"